Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 August 2010
The last part of this collection of essays concentrates on the political/legal values and structures of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century France, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century imperial Germany, and seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain. More than the other sections of this work, it provides a comparative framework through which to view the intersection between how women viewed the state and their relation to it. It clarifies the need to move beyond any single form of government, scenario of political change or specific historiography if we are to understand the role gender plays in state formation and political values. While women in each case almost invariably lacked the political standing of men, and wrote less on explicitly political topics than did their male counterparts, still their political selves (and their conception of public space and exchange) were strongly affected by the power realities of their time and place.
These four chapters explore the distinct cultural and material parameters that dictated both the language and acceptable evidence for use by both women and men in framing arguments concerning women's political standing. Chapter 13 reassesses the construction and use of Salic law in late medieval and early modern France to document how jurists and clerics fabricate its origin and authenticity. Chapter 14 turns to imperial Germany and moves beyond the assumptions embedded in the vast majority of scholarship on women's early modern political nature and writings.